Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cruelty of mortality thrillingly expressed


One hundred and fifty years and many reincarnations later, the City Choir Dunedin might deserve a less backhanded tribute from the Dunedin City Council but, as one reflection of the city, endures as a powerful statement of European culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Their celebration of this feat was greatly enhanced by joining forces with the NZSO under the direction of Pietari Inkinen. The excellence of the performance was not lost on the crowded house, which gave thunderous prolonged applause with shouts and stamping feet as if to crack the Dunedin Town Hall’s floorboards. 

Verdi’s Requiem is an astonishingly unnerving work, replete with the mystery and Christian fear of death. Rising from the murky quiet of “Kyrie”, “Dies Irae” [The Wrath of God] unleashes a doomsday thunder. Siren screams and the tight trills of Satan’s seduction illustrate what awaits the dying. Although there are occasional lighter moments in “Sanctus”, a statement of piety, “Agnus Dei” [Lamb of God] and “Lux Eterna” [Eternal Light], this is a grim work of highly gothic Romanticism. It revels in beautiful terror and has intensely chilling power. Put briefly, it is a highly successful expression of the cruelty of human mortality. 

All sections of Orchestra and Choir were notable for the supreme dedication to creating an excellent performance, although some the Choir’s fugal passages would have gained more moment through a greater show of confidence. 

The soloists, soprano Lisa Harper-­Brown, mezzo-soprano Margaret Medlyn, tenor Rosario La Spina and bass Judd Arthur produced some spell-binding, delicate and blockbuster moments. Special mention has to go to the impeccably beautiful ensemble work in “Lacrimosa” [Weeping], Harper-Brown and Medlyn’s truly glorious duet “Recordare” [Remember] and to Harper-­Brown’s dramatically compelling “Libera Me” [Deliver Me]. 

One wonders what else we can expect from future collaborations between the imperial forces of the NZSO and City Choir Dunedin.

Review by Marian Poole, Otago Daily Times, 28 June 2013.

Verdi Requiem, 27 June 2013, Dunedin Town Hall.
NZSO with City Choir Dunedin, conducted by Pietari Inkinen

Audience comments: 
'Absolutely spine-tingling'
'I've never sat so still for so long, it was riveting'
'Brilliant and amazing!'
'Thank you that was fantastic. You are lucky being able to do it all again.'
'Watched everything closely, you guys never missed a step.'
'Electrifying concert last night in Dunedin everyone!! Well done!!'
'Thoroughly wonderful evening. Kind regards and my commendations to all in your "Big Sing" hearts and minds in harmony...'

"'Requiem' by NZSO, city choir wonderful" - reads the headline of the Civis column in the ODT on Saturday 6 July. "Last week's performance of Verdi's 'Requiem' by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and City Choir Dunedin was outstanding: dramatic and exciting for a large audience... And there was an eerie sensation when trumpets sounded from the door just behind us, answering those in the opposite circle doorway, and in the orchestra. The performance was deeply moving, and a magnificent way to celebrate the choir's sesquicentennial. Congratulations to the choir, and to David Burchell, its Director."

And here's another report, this time by Mike Crowl, who also enjoyed the Dunedin performance.

Were you there? What did you think of the performance? Leave a comment here or send us an email to - we'd love to hear from you!

No comments: